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St John the Baptist, Adwick-upon-Dearne (also called Adwick-on-Dearne), Yorkshire, West Riding

(53°30′29″N, 1°17′34″W)
Adwick-upon-Dearne (also called Adwick-on-Dearne)
SE 470 015
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, West Riding
now South Yorkshire
medieval York
now Sheffield
  • Barbara English
  • Rita Wood
28 April 2011

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Adwick-upon-Dearne is a village in the Doncaster borough of South Yorkshire, near Mexborough. The church of St John the Baptist is a small building standing at the end of the village, consisting of chancel, nave and open bellcote, weathered. Romanesque features include the south doorway (which has an Early English porch), the original chancel arch, and some miscellaneous material. There is a modern vestry on the north side. All the exterior is coated with grey pebbledash and the building is roofed in blue slate. According to the church guide, the walls were built of limestone and sandstone, and the slate roof replaced thatched reeds in 1881. Borthwick Institute, York, holds consecration deeds 1822, Fac. 1881/5 and Fac. 1910/26.


The church is not mentioned in Domesday Book. A church here was granted to Nostell Priory by Swein son of Ailric in the time of archbishop Thurstan, 1114-1130, confirmed by Alric’s son Adam c.1153-4; a priest and rector of Adwick witnessed a Pontefract priory charter of c.1120-1130 (Thompson and Clay 1933, 2-3).


Exterior Features




Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Interior Decoration


The church guide quotes Hunter (1828, 389) ‘The Church of Adwick is the purest specimen remaining in this deanery of the original village church. It has no tower, no side aisles, but simply a nave and chancel, with a little shed in which two bells are hung.’ Morris (1923, 75-6), says ‘the humble, unrestored church is pink-washed, mouldy and not worth a visit… aisleless ground-plan, and is Norm. or Trans. with a very small chancel arch of the plainest type, three Norman ‘slits’ in the chancel… notice the cup-shaped font’. He seems to have visited the church before 1910, and the description of the chancel arch was never revised from the first edition of 1911.

Of the bellcote Pevsner wrote (p.74) ‘The bellcote also seems to be Norman, which would make it a great rarity (cf Littleton, Hampshire; Northborough, Soke of Peterborough).’ There was a bellcote for one bell at the W end of the now-demolished church at Barton-le-Street, photographed before restoration in 1871, reproduced in Butler (2007, 82). Adel church has a heavy Victorian replacement of its original bellcote, which may have been corbelled out from the nave W wall. The pebble-dashing was in place from at least 1881 (Borthwick Fac. 1881/5a). The specification states that ‘all the outside to be pebble dash’ with the added note ‘not rough floated’, but with no indication if this was the first time it was used, or why. It obscures changes to the exterior of the church, and blurs the details of the belfry. The details are not typically Romanesque, but this is probably due to construction using random masonry. The interior W wall of the nave shows no sign of the structure, but the bell ropes come through holes in the roof close to the wall.

The south wall inside has a vertical masonry joint W of the door, probably marking an earlier limit of the nave. The existing pointed chancel arch replaced an earlier one in about 1910. The earlier arch, as shown on the faculty plan in pale blue tint and pecked outline, had an opening approx. 4 feet 8 inches wide (1.4 m). Instructions merely said ‘present chancel arch to be taken out and a larger one inserted’ (Borthwick Fac. 1910/26). There is a copy of a photograph of the arch removed in 1910 on display in the church. The arch was round-headed, with plain and square jambs and plain and chamfered imposts; it resembles an early twelfth-century arch. The church guide (p. 7) says that before about 1850 ‘a plain stone wall, with a low square-headed door in the middle, divided the nave from the chancel.’

Piscina. The arched top recalls the shape of the renewed piscina at Conisbrough church; the projecting basin is reminiscent of the broken shelf at Bolton Priory. It is impossible to date the item. The church guide suggests that the cross head is of ‘Roche abbey stone and may have been the head of the cross in the churchyard, of which only the base remains opposite the porch’. The piece could have been a head-stone.


The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874), L. A. S. Butler, ed. Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series (159), Woodbridge 2007.

St John’s Parochial Church Council, St John’s church Adwick upon Dearne: A Guided Tour, 2011.

W. Farrer, Early Yorkshire Charters 3, Leeds 1916.

Joseph Hunter, South Yorkshire, Deanery of Doncaster 1, Nichols, London 1828, 389.

G. Lawton, Collectio rerum ecclesiasticarum de diocesi Eboracensi; or, collections relative to churches and chapels within the Diocese of York. To which are added collections relative to churches and chapels within the diocese of Ripon, New edition, London 1842.

J. E. Morris, The West Riding of Yorkshire, London 1911, 2nd edn. 1923, 75-6.

N. Pevsner, revised by E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire, The West Riding, Harmondsworth 1967, 74.

A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay (ed.), Fasti Parochiales I part I (Deanery of Doncaster), Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 85 (1933), 2-3.

J Raine, 'The Dedications of the Yorkshire Churches', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 2 (1873).

P. F. Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, South Yorkshire County Council Archaeology Monograph no.2. Sheffield 1982.